Can I file a lawsuit . . . ? Do I have a case?
We are frequently contacted by potential clients inquiring whether they “have a case” or “can file suit” over a fact situation. The answers to these questions are generally more practical than legal in nature but are extremely important in making an informed decision.
1. Anyone can sue anyone for anything and seek any amount.
Although you can sue, should you. Anyone can sue anyone for anything. All you have to do is type or handwrite a petition, pay the filing fee, and file it with the court clerk. Years ago I saw a federal court lawsuit from a frequent pro se filer who sued a pharmacy for ONE BILLION DOLLARS because he was forced to wait a long time for his prescription. Once a case number is assigned, you "have a case," but that doesn't mean it’s a good one.
2. What questions should you be asking?
If you feel you've been wronged and are exploring filing a lawsuit, here are good questions to ask when you sit down with an attorney you are considering hiring. What is the legal cause of action or claim that you could assert? What would you have to prove to prevail on the claim? Every cause of action or claim has elements that you, the plaintiff, will carry the burden of proving. What are the costs of hiring an attorney to pursue the claim when compared to a reasonable potential recovery? If I win, will the other side have to pay my attorney's fees? Is the case one in which I will have to pay an attorney on an hourly rate or might I find contingency (percentage of recovery) representation? Has the attorney ever handled a matter like yours?